The Broderick, Medusa, Morsifer and Throwing Stars. The four that are left. The four that will compete for the Battle of the Bands final on Thursday at The Bluebird in Bloomington.
And since the competition began on May 25, only one band has earned first place every round they’ve played - Medusa. So is there any doubt that this Bloomington-based grunge and heavy-metal band will win it all? Nope, not at all, according to Medusa guitarist James Bauman.
“We’re being confident to get through it - otherwise, we get nervous,” Bauman says.
Of course Bauman and the rest of the compeition may be nervous because the stakes are so high: $2,000 in cash, T-shirts and buttons printed by In Case of Emergency Press, a tour poster designed by Mile 44, a photoshoot and website by Blueline Media Productions and a Laundromatinee session on My Old Kentucky Blog.
Bauman said if the band wins, they'll put the money towards getting ready for a U.S. tour or creating new band T-shirts.
“We’re good about not blowing the money we make, but we might have at least one night of partying,” Bauman says.
Not that James can live off what he makes from being in Medusa and his other band, Racebannon. Aside from bassist Alex Mann, who works for Bloomington record label Secretly Canadian, none of the band members’ jobs are related to music. Frontman Scott Van Buran works in construction and the other three band members work in the food industry.
Three members of Medusa (Bauman, guitarist Mike Anderson, and drummer Brad Williams) are also in Racebannon, which will soon head out on a European tour.
“Racebannon is the band that holds everything together, but the past couple of years Medusa has been taking off, becoming just as important as Racebannon,” Bauman says.
According to Bauman, what sets Medusa apart from other bands in the competition is their stage presence.
“We have the most energetic live show anyone has ever seen with synchronized dance moves, kicks and a really awesome front man.” James says one of Medusa’s influences is The Rolling Stones, mostly because frontman Scott Van Buren tends to imitate Mick Jagger’s energy on stage.
“I think with a lot of bands, people get bored watching them, but we go full force and even it you’re not into the music, you cant help but get into it because there is so much energy in the room,” he says.
The band counts The Stooges, Slayer and the MC5 among their influences.
“Altogether, older punk aggressive rock is kind of what we agree on [as music fans]. Even though there are a lot of comparisons to doom metal bands, we’re not really into that stuff, we just sound a lot like it.”
Even though the band hasn’t released any new music since their debut album En Raga Sul in 2008, James doesn’t see any hurry.
“The album is something we’re proud of, we wrote a lot of songs and narrowed it down to the best. Every song on that album is a good song.”
But in the works for Medusa are some recordings lined up that include a possible split 7” with the band Wizardry from New York City. And things are looking up since a new drummer joined the group. James says the last three songs they've recorded are the best that they’ve ever recorded.
“We don’t really know yet, but up until recently we weren’t really sure how seriously to take the band because Racebannon was always the more important project,” Bauman says.
Battle of the Bands Finals
The Bluebird, 216 N. Walnut St., Bloomington
Thursday, Aug. 26, 9 p.m., $3, 21+